The most important pre-game news you’ll read today is that Delon Wright will not require surgery at this time and is only expected to miss about a month. Head here to catch up on that before looking ahead to the Toronto Raptors’ visit to Madison Square Garden to face the New York Knicks for the second time in six days.
The Raptors won that last meeting decisively. It took place at Air Canada Centre, though, and the Knicks have been borderline phenomenal at home. Blame an easier schedule or a small sample or noise or MSG magic, but they’re a tougher out on their own court, and the Raptors are well aware.
“They’re a different team at home. They’re a totally different team at Madison Square Garden,” head coach Dwane Casey said Tuesday at practice. “I don’t know why. They play with much more confidence. (Kristaps Porzingis) plays with much more confidence there. Their whole team does. They beat the Clippers the other night. They had Cleveland down double-digits the entire game. They beat Charlotte. Our mindset has to be prepared for a little bit of everything as far as how we cover him at Madison Square Garden, as well as (Tim) Hardaway, as well as keeping (Enes) Kanter off the boards.”
If there’s any place a visiting team can get up to play and fight any inkling of complacency, it’s MSG. I’d expect DeMar DeRozan, in particular, to be up for the occasion, and we’re still due a KLOE game from the point guard who was very nearly a Knick at one time. DeRozan has the 10th-most career points among all active visiting players at MSG, scoring 317 in 14 appearances. Lowry’s scored 138 in eight appearances there as a Raptor and has dished 61 assists. And hey, maybe one of the young players will step up and begin carving out a career as a Knick killer.
The game tips off at 7:30 on TSN and Sportsnet 590. You can check out the full game preview here.
On top of the Wright news, the Raptors entered New York unclear on the status of Norman Powell. Powell’s been out for over a week with a hip pointer that remains a day-to-day issue, that injury type being particularly difficult to peg down a timeline for. Powell was upgraded from doubtful to questionable ahead of this one, and it turns out he’s going to play. Good news all around for the Raptors backcourt.
Whether or not Powell draws back into the starting lineup is unclear. Casey said only that he’ll dress, not that he’ll start, and there’s a case to be made both for and against him coming off of the bench. The brief case for it is that the second unit could really use his attacking and ball-handling with Wright out, and that OG Anunoby has fit in reasonably well with the starters so far. The case against it is that the team doesn’t like for players to lose their job to injury and that there still isn’t much of a sample of Powell with the starters to rule it out as a fit.
Check back before tip-off to confirm starters.
UPDATE: Anunoby is staying in the starting lineup.
PG: Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Lorenzo Brown
SG: DeMar DeRozan, Norman Powell
SF: OG Anunoby, C.J. Miles, Alfonzo McKinnie
PF: Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam
C: Jonas Valanciunas, Jakob Poeltl, Lucas Nogueira
OUT: Delon Wright
905: Malcolm Miller, Bruno Caboclo
The Knicks are the healthier side here, with only Ron Baker’s wonky ankle a question. Jeff Hornacek has been clear that Joakim Noah will continue to be one of the other inactives, and it would seem likely that the rotation is similar to the one that lost to the Raptors a few days back. If there are question marks, they’re around Tim Hardaway, who’s been playing through a sore left foot, and whether Michael Beasley sees time. Beasley has been in and out of the rotation but scored in a hurry during a mostly garbage-time fourth quarter on Friday, and the Knicks may opt to roll with the offensive injection he can provide. Free Beas, is what I’m saying.
PG: Jarrett Jack, Frank Ntilikina, Ramon Sessions, (Ron Baker)
SG: Courtney Lee, Damyean Dotson
SF: Tim Hardaway, Doug McDermott
PF: Kristaps Porzingis, Lance Thomas, Michael Beasley
C: Enes Kanter, Kyle O’Quinn, Willy Hernangomez, Joakim Noah
TBD: Ron Baker
Westchester: Isaiah Hicks, Luke Kornet
- Over at The Athletic, I took a data dive to determine if this is the best basketball DeMar DeRozan has ever played as a Raptor. RR readers can get 20 percent off a subscription at this link.
- Bruno Caboclo remains with Raptors 905 ahead of a weekend back-to-back. Alfonzo McKinnie was recalled for the Raptors’ road trip and Lorenzo Brown is back on the NBA side. Brown should be with the team for the bulk of the time Wright is injured, although with three games over 13 days following this road trip, the Raptors can save a few of his 45 allotted NBA days by giving him the up-and-down treatment.
- Tonight’s game will set NBA record for the most players participating who at one point participated in Basketball Without Borders. Enes Kante (2008, Turkey), Willy Hernangomez (2011, Slovenia), Frank Ntilikina (2015, France), Bruno Caboclo (2013, Brazil), Pascal Siakam (2012, South Africa), and Jonas Valanciunas (2008, Turkey) were all a part of the BWB camps at one point. All told, over 50 players who participated in BWB have made the NBA, including 24 active players. I guess technically, Friday set the record, and this is just tying it.
- We’re drawing a name Friday to give away another pair of tickets with InTheActionSeats.com:
The Raptors have held as 4-point favorites most of the day, with the over-under coming down from 212 to 210.